Oh Peanut Butter,
Why must you be so addictive? You are just so comforting to eat, have such a smooth texture, and you sit so well in my stomach, how can I tell myself no to just ONE more spoonful? You are, in theory, healthy, so I say, just pair you with an apple or a banana and I’ll be okay. Until I finish said fruit, and there you remain, calling my name from your jar. I can have the parts the remain on the spoon, right? Whoops, I dropped it back in, I guess I just have to eat what’s on that too. Why is goodbye the saddest parting with you?
Whenever I do eat peanut butter, which is quite often, I am eating it for a snack. Until I finish what I am eating the peanut butter on, and then I just keep going and sometimes turns into more of a meal. For me, “I like fruit with my peanut butter” is a very true statement. So how do I get myself to stop eating? Though I do not care too, too much about the caloric value, it is hard not to think about when you realize you don’t know how much you’ve had other than “a lot”. Then I worry about the fat content, though of the places to get fat, it is not the worst. (Important note here: peanut butter is unhealthy when you get the “normal” kind–basically the ones that contain any sugar, trans fats, or hydrogenated oils of any kind. The best kinds to get are the organic, naturally separating ones that you have to mix before you eat it.)
I have been told though, that it’s better just to eat the amount labeled by the serving size, which is almost always 2 tablespoons. And I try to stick to that because it does need a limit. I have noticed that after I eat a ton of it, calories and such out the window, I have a stomach ache afterwards! After which I always tell myself won’t happen again, but always does. So I make up a lot of strategies to help myself put down the spoon or knife, but they only work sometimes (which is why there are a number of them).
So…here are some strategies to eating close to one portion of peanut butter:
- Measure out 2 tablespoons before you even start eating, then put the rest away where you can’t see it. I always have a hard time motivating myself to do this, because then I will only eat 2 tablespoons, and most of the time I don’t want to limit myself. Or I am too lazy or optimistic and say that I won’t eat more than what I THINK is 2 tablespoons. However, this is definitely the most effective strategy I have found so far.
- Eat it until whatever you are putting the peanut butter on until it is gone, not limiting yourself on the amount that you eat until then. I eat peanut butter most often this way, because I can trick myself into not feeling limited, though I don’t actually end up eating that much. However, I am only successful in stopping there about half the time. This is when I keep going for just a LITTLE bit more…so then I try to play mind games.
- Eat it in front of other people. If anything, there will be a small amount more of willpower that gets you to stop eating if you don’t want to be judged for eating so much. This also kind of depends on who you eat in front of, and how much you really care about other people judging you for what and how much you eat.
- Make yourself drink two large sips of water in between bites. My rational for this is that I will feel full faster, which would (hopefully) add to the reasons I should stop eating it.
- Eat a lot of small bites. This way you trick your body into thinking that you are eating a ton, because it feels like it!
- Eat slowly. This gives you more time to think about what you are eating, and really enjoy it. It also gives you some time to listen to your body and figure out if you are full or not.
- Tell yourself you will want more whether you eat one more spoonful or ten. I have found this to be very true for me, I am not sure for other people though. I find that once I pass that satiated feeling and feeling full, but I am still eating peanut butter, I will still feel lacking in some way, which I want to make up for with peanut butter.
- Remind yourself of your 6-pack absperations. It is always only somewhat of a joke when I try to remind myself of this, because I know that this is only a concern for less than a second. In the moment, my question is, “who needs a 6 pack when there is peanut butter?” But sometimes this reminder does help me decide to put the spoon down.
- Focus on your mental state–do you feel uneasiness about anything? I notice that when I overeat I am feeling uneasy about something and I want to be comforted, I’d say this is what I think about when I think about comforting food. So, when I can’t seem to get enough, I decide that I just have to face whatever is bothering me head-on. I generally make a list of things, mentally or physical out on paper, of things that could possibly get me stressed, worried, sad, etc. Then I measure my physical response when I think of it. It is incredible, because if you really listen and look for a physical response, you will notice a huge difference between some causes than others. Sometimes I know right on the spot what it is, like work that I have to do for school or a huge test or music that I have to memorize, but other times it isn’t so easy. Things I have found to be the cause are feeling homesick, worrying about someone, my love life (or lack there of), something that happened that makes you feel sad, angry, guilty, or any negative feeling.
- Physically turn your head to the right, then the left, gradually speeding up. I am always surprised in how much this actually helps me say no to more food when I am no longer hungry. I always forget about this trick, but all you are doing is saying no. In stead of passively staring at the jar in front of you, you are actively saying “I’ve had enough, thank you”. It is like a quick refresh of the brain that makes me think fresh again. Sometimes I even see it as me standing up to the silent challenge put out by the universe to try to get me to eat the entire jar (which is almost always the best incentive for me).
After half a year of my flirtations with peanut butter in college, I have come to one quite large conclusion: my mental state has the largest impact on when I decide to close the jar. As soon as I find myself reaching the end of my peanut butter serving, I start assessing how much willpower I have at the moment. My theory is that every part has its play, no matter how large or small. Like whether I am happy today, if I am more or less stressed, and even how much sleep I got the night before or whether or not the peanut butter is within my direct sight. However hard it may be to stop eating it, peanut butter is so good that every single bite seems worth it. And there is no reason that you shouldn’t have it, why deprive yourself? I find it to be the thing that fills me up the best and keeps me from eating my feet until dinner. Trying to eat it “in moderation” is almost a myth, but my goal is no more than once a day if anything.
It is also important to remember that IT IS OKAY TO OVEREAT. You are just human, and you are doing the best you can for the moment. The most important part is listening to your body and deciding how much you need from there. I know I struggle with this, but even when you do happen to eat a few too many spoons of peanut butter, or whatever it may be, don’t beat yourself up about it. I always repeat “I love and accept myself, and this is okay” in my head until I feel like I believe it. I figure that if I am going to eat as much as I want, I might as well not feel guilty about it. I also think that loving yourself will help you get rid of the feelings that might make you want to overeat in the first place. Just some food for thought.
Anyways, I hope nobody shies away from the wonderful power of peanut butter, because it is just so incredible. I hope these tricks at least get you thinking, whether or not you use them. Have a wonderful day!